Tara’s Story


The Dancing Should Never End

My experience at RSCDS Summer School in St. Andrews

by Tara Mactavish, Rosedale Senior Class

The problem with talking about my week at St Andrews Summer School is that when I do, I just want to go back. I don’t believe there are words in the English language to describe how amazing every day was for that one magical week.

The first night’s Ceilidh was amazing. I was really nervous because, aside from being jet-lagged out of my mind, I had come to the quick realization that I was the youngest person there, and the only person from Toronto. I think people were surprised I was in the advanced class, but by the end of the first night I had made friends already; I think my enthusiasm during “Shiftin’ Bobbins” definitely helped. A couple from New Zealand actually invited my mom and me to their house the next day for a barbeque, and we spent three hours talking about everything from dancing to renaissance fashion. It was so surreal and just brilliant.

On Monday morning, I nearly fell out of bed as the sound of bagpipes came bursting through my open window. I thought my alarm clock had gone native, but then I realized it was a fellow dancer who practiced his bagpipes every morning at seven-thirty. It was the best “welcome to Scotland” ever.

My classes were amazing, thanks to my brilliant teachers, Antoine Rousseau and Anne Kennedy, and amazing pianist, Heulwen Hall. I was blown away by how much personality and energy a live musician can add to a class!

Every night there was a dance for all to attend, and I always made sure I was well rested so I could do every dance. This meant afternoon naps, but our rooms were so cute that I didn’t mind in the slightest! The best thing about the Younger Hall was that when you were standing still and everyone around you was dancing, the entire floor shook. I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face; the feeling that you are part of something so big and special and floor-shaking never loses its magic.

On my last night, there was a huge party to celebrate the end of week 4 of the Summer School. The tiny party room was filled with people, drinks and food. In the corner was a small piano, and at 2:00 in the morning, someone sat down and began to play. I have to say, spontaneous dancing at 2:00 in the morning is one of the coolest things I have ever done. By the end I was laughing so hard that my sides were aching. I stayed up long after the dancing was over, talking with other dancers until the sun came up. I just didn’t want to admit it was over.

St. Andrews is a beautiful town. The beach looks like it belongs in Cuba (though the water’s a lot colder!) and the buildings and streets are old, and full to the brim with character. I enjoyed immensely the walks from class to class as it meant I got to see the town. Colours seem so much brighter in St. Andrews. Especially the grass — we don’t get real grass in Canada. I miss the carpets of emerald green, separated by winding paths and dotted with explosively bright flowers.

When people ask me about my trip to Scotland, I never answer the same way twice. There are too many stories, memories, and snapshots captured by my brain that I will cherish forever. I wish I could go back every year but, even if I don’t, I know the memories from this once will last me forever.